Hall of Fame Ballot Review – Jack Morris

Player Profile on Baseball Reference.com

Notable Career Accomplishments
254-186 record
3.90 career ERA
ERA+ of 105
175 complete games
20 win seasons – 3
World Series Championships – 3

The Case for Morris

The first thing I think of when I hear Jack Morris’ name is that he was the big game pitcher. You wanted him to start Game 1, and you wanted him for Game 7 as well. He pitched for 18 seasons, 14 of them with the Detroit Tigers. 254 wins, 175 complete games, 2478 strikeouts, and those 3 championships (1984, 1991, 1992) all portray him very well, especially the Game 7 10 inning shutout he threw to clinch the series victory in 1991.

The Case Against Morris

A career ERA+ (ERA adjusted against league average) of 105 tells us he was really only about 5% better than league average over the span of his career. A strikeout rate of 5.8 per 9 innings would hardly be considered dominant, as would having 186 losses as well. His 3.90 era over his career, while very good, seems high for a period in baseball where runs were not being scored at a rapid rate.


While his big game reputation and success in those games are definitely a strong point in his favor, I don’t think he was in enough of those types of games for that alone to warrant his selection. So I am forced to look at the rest of the body of his work. A 3.90 ERA and an ERA+ of 105 both cause me some concern. Both of these numbers tell me that he was an above-average pitcher, but not necessarily an elite one. Throw in his lower strikeout-per-9 inning rate, and it really shows me a pitcher who was not necessarily a dominant one.

This leaves me to look at his year-to-year statistics to see if he had prolonged periods of excellence. From 1983-1988, he had:

  • an ERA under 3.40: 4 times
  • 15 wins or more: 7 times
  • 200 strikeouts: 3 times
  • ERA+ of 120 or higher: 3 times
  • 10+ complete games: 6 times

This appears to be the best sustained stretch of excellence that Morris had in his career, and while it is  clear that he had a very good career, I’m not sold that he warrants selection into the Hall of Fame.


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